Perfectionism isn’t an Excuse not to Publish

As writers, we are constantly told to polish our work to the best version we can, before publishing. The advice is good, a manuscript should be edited and complete before you send it. The best version of yourself. You only get one chance to make a first impression.

However, there are times when our professionalism can get in the way of our journey. Writers who pursue perfectionism are sometimes hiding another secret. A fear of being published. The apprehension of getting your hearts desire. A publishing contract.

My full-time job was working as a teacher with young people excluded from school. As we approached their exams most of them were hit with this attitude. Having been told all their life that they wouldn’t amount to anything they are scared of success. I have seen them stop turning up, ripping up their course work. Anything that stops them succeeding. For them, failure is what they are used to. The thought of succeeding, they don’t understand so they go back to their default. They push failure.

Many writers are no different. When faced with a completed, edited manuscript, impostor syndrome jumps up. We have all had the thoughts. This isn’t good enough, I can’t submit this. You then go back to the editing process to improve the manuscript again. They listen to advise and read all the articles and try to use this knowledge to polish again.

There is nothing wrong with this approach, but when this goes on for years it can be of detriment to the writer. If you are changing and improving a near-perfect manuscript, when do you publish? When do you take a deep breath and jump in?

Impostor syndrome can strike at any time. Sometimes though you have to kick it to the curb and take a leap of faith. What is the worse that can happen?

Your first attempt may be unsuccessful. Let me remind you Dr Seuss was turned down by 27 publishers before he was successful. If you believe in your manuscript then keep going, don’t fall at the first hurdle. If you are never successful then learn from the process and move onto the next book. Nothing is wasted, you have learnt from the whole process. That knowledge could help you be successful next time or the time after that.

You have to try to be successful. Don’t let perfectionism and imposter syndrome stop you reaching your dream. Take a deep breath and send your work.

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